Maybe at some point I’ll start reporting on the regular rumors that Matias Almeyda is about to be tempted away from the San Jose Earthquakes by a Liga MX team, or a club in the Argentine Primera, or hell, even in MLS, but off the back of the latest report, I’ll explain why I haven’t been chasing all of these rumors so far: I haven’t really thought he’s on the verge of leaving.
Yes, one day he will leave, whether he breaks his contract and the Quakes get a payoff from his next club, he’s fired, or he leaves when his contract ends. Everything ends at some point, we all know this.
But after the latest round, with Cruz Azul said to be hot on the chase to get Almeyda, came a few days of consternation from some in San Jose and plenty of excitement in Mexico City, followed by the firm confirmation from the Earthquakes that Almeyda is staying put, means the cycle is wholly predictable at this point.
- A “big club” (definition is certainly flexible) needs a manager
- Sportswriters look for candidates and can’t understand why Almeyda would want to stay with the Earthquakes, ergo he’s linked to the job in the press
- (Perhaps) a team actually does reach out to see if they can tempt Almeyda away
- We go through several days of uncertainty publicly
- The Earthquakes tell the American press that Almeyda will stay in San Jose
I’ve only been on this beat for a year and I feel like this has happened at least three times already. I think it happened at least three times last year, too.
But there’s a good reason for why Almeyda is linked to every job in multiple countries: The guy is a successful coach. I can’t overstate how good he was with Chivas, a club that has largely been a basketcase otherwise this century. He also picked up the pieces with River Plate when they were at their low point.
And while the Quakes haven’t reached the peaks of those clubs yet, they have made progress. Remember, San Jose made one major signing for 2020, one! Over the entire course of the season they still improved, even with a roster that was almost exactly the same as the year before. In MLS terms, let’s just say that never happens, if a team that is not defending champ stands pat they pretty much always go backwards.
So it’s good when other teams covet your team’s manager, because that means he’s good at his job and is in demand. The Quakes haven’t had that since their relaunch and while not perfect, it’s a good sign for a club that hasn’t had the same ability to attract top stars over the years.
Now, the flipside: What will happen when Almeyda departs? Obviously it will depend on if he leaves on his terms or is forced out the door, but let’s say he leaves because he wants to. San Jose’s cachet at the moment is entirely wrapped up in him, so whenever he leaves, there will be a culture change. Unless one of his assistants wants to stay on to be head coach, employs the same exact style and is as ace as a man manager as Almeyda, however, there won’t be a seamless transition. There will absolutely be a transition and who knows how the team will deal with that, since the playing style will likely change and the roster construction probably will, too.
Still, the main reason I haven’t gotten all that concerned with Almeyda leaving is because I don’t see him leaving before his contract is up. I’m not sure he would sign an extension, which is reason for Quakes fans to be concerned, definitely, but he strikes me as a man of his word and I think if the Earthquakes organization makes him feel supported, I think he will stay at least until his contract ends.
We can look back at it when it’s all over to see if I was right or not, but while I think Almeyda will be linked to open jobs all over the world every month or two, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about whether he’s on the way out. Here’s hoping his time continues and he and the Earthquakes continue to prove all the doubters — in MLS and globally — wrong about the fit of coach and club.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.